If Game 1 was anything to go by, watch out for the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference this season!
Despite 19 turnovers, an average 11-of-30 shooting game from long range and an off-night from their All-Stars in Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the team from the Valley came out on top against a Dallas Mavericks squad led by an MVP candidate in Luka Doncic.
In a game with only six lead changes, the Suns led most of the way but never ran away with it. And with 1:56 left on the game clock, two free-throws by Doncic tied things up at 100 apiece.
Then, the Suns rallied and produced clutch plays by multiple players to seal the season-opening victory. First, their superstar backcourt nailed clutch shots from the same spot on the floor.
Clutch buckets from CP3 and D-Book 🔥 pic.twitter.com/3yrmwV1xJS- ESPN (@espn) December 24, 2020
A quick dunk in response by the young Slovenian superstar meant the Mavericks were still in it. That's when Mikal Bridges stepped up, by catching hold off a huge offensive rebound which gave the Suns an extra possession which more or less sealed the game with 7.5 seconds to go.
Phoenix finished with six players in double figures. Booker led the way with 22 points, 11 of which came in a red-hot first quarter but also turned the ball over eight times.
The bench trio of Cameron Johnson (15 points, five rebounds), Cameron Payne (11 points, three rebounds, three assists in 20 minutes), and Langston Galloway (11 points in eight minutes) combined for 37 points on 14-of-23 (60.9%) shooting from the field.
It wasn't necessarily a great Suns debut for Chris Paul, who finished with eight points, five assists, and four rebounds on 3-of-9 shooting, but it's the win that counts. It means that the franchise has now not lost a professional basketball game in 288 days, following their 8-0 run in the bubble.
On the other hand, for the Mavericks, who were playing without Kristaps Porzingis, Luka Doncic was the lone star. This was his 77th game with at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
On an off-shooting night, he made 11-of-26 from the field and failed to knock down a single 3-pointer (0-of-6) en route to a game-high 32 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. But he still put on a show:
Magic. 🪄🔮#MFFL | @luka7doncic pic.twitter.com/j0gQlcSu3b- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 24, 2020
When you watch @swish41 film before the game: pic.twitter.com/PCrELRdYPr- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 24, 2020
"I've got to stop taking these very bad shots," Doncic said postgame about his late-game shot selection. "It wasn't just the last one, but it was a couple of them. It's not good for me, it's not good for the team and I've got to change it."
He did have support but only in spurts, as none of the five other players to score in double figures finished with more than 12 points.
While the Suns can enjoy their 1-0 start to the season for a couple of days, the Mavs travel to Los Angeles to play the reigning champions at Staples Center as part of the Christmas Day slate.
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